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Surprise gift for the holidays

Volunteers expected Shorty to return again to his rocky haulout along Harbor Avenue at some point yesterday. Sure enough, at 9am a spotted pup wriggled onto a jagged rock in this small Elliott Bay cove with a drop-dead view of the Seattle skyline. A mere few feet from the same spot as yesterday, we assumed it was Shorty.

However, we did want to confirm identity since another pup was seen hanging around the cove the day before. Much to our surprise, identification and health assessment photos showed that the pup was a new one in our database. It’s very difficult to compare markings, depending on if a pup’s coat is wet or dry. A wet coats shows the unique spot patterns much more clearly than a dry or semi-dry coat (such as Shorty’s yesterday). While many of the facial markings were similar, we could see we definitely had another pup on our hands.

This new pup, dubbed Tootsie, rested high above the tide line as the water receded. The pup had reasonably good body weight for a 4-6 month old weaner this time of year. About 2:30, Tootsie decided it was time to forage for a late lunch, but took about a 3-foot tumble trying to maneuver her way down to the bay. She rested for a few minutes after falling, then traversed the remaining rocks and slid away into the gray water. She was seen foraging offshore for some time.

The perimeter was left in place for the evening, but as of 8:30 pm no pups had returned and we will be checking the site early this morning. We expect Tootsie, Shorty or another little blubberball to show up again today. If a pup comes up with this morning’s 12-foot tide, he or she will be resting very high up on the rocks and terribly vulnerable to disturbance and potential fall-related injury. As usual, Seal Sitters’ volunteers will be on duty talking to the public and ensuring the pup’s protection. Maybe we’ll have two pups resting on the rocks today!

PUPDATE 6:28 am
No pups on the rocks yet this morning.

Winter solstice brings seal pup Shorty to shore

Late yesterday afternoon, Seal Sitters volunteer Lars noticed a seal pup sleeping high on the rocks just below Harbor Avenue. While somewhat inaccessible, the pup was most vulnerable to being startled by a person or dog looming just a few feet above him, creating potential injury from a tumble down the jagged rocks while trying to escape.

Lars quickly called the hotline and first responders established a tape perimeter and “do not enter - resting seal pup” signs to create a buffer zone on the grass and sidewalk above. With little foot traffic as darkness approached and the rain increased in intensity, the pup settled in for the night. He was still sleeping soundly as of 9pm.

Volunteers will be checking this morning to see if Shorty (nicknamed for Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year) returned to Elliott Bay overnight or is still on shore.

We have had a lull in activity of pups on the beach needing protection. A number of pups have been seen resting on offshore platforms off Lowman Beach, Lincoln Park, Beach Drive and Alki or swimming along the shoreline. We never know when a pup will pick a public spot to rest and warm up. Seal Sitters volunteers are always on call and ready to give them sanctuary on shore when they do!

PUDATE 8:20am
Shorty was not on shore at 6:30am. We have left up the tape perimeter in anticipation that he might return soon after this morning’s high tide.
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